M. Night Shyamalan is a director I respect but I’m not a die hard fan of his. His really good films are ones I haven’t seen in a long time and don’t recall how good I though they were, his really bad films I do recall and laugh at (The Happening is a classic), and there are some I’ve just never gotten around to seeing either because the twist was spoiled for me or because I’ve heard they’re just not good. It’s also January, where there are really good Oscar-bait films coming out wide but also the dumping ground for some really bad films. With Shyamalan’s track record, you’d think it’s not going to be good…think again. This film goes from ok to very good and it literally takes until the last scene to earn that. DO NOT GET SPOILED BEFORE THIS FILM! There is a twist at the end that Shyamalan is known for doing that changes the entire film and made my review go up significantly.
Split stars James McAvoy as…well…alot of people as his original identity of Kevin has been taken over by 23 other personalities has Kevin has dissociative identity disorder (DID). One of those identities is Dennis, who drugs and kidnaps three girls and takes them to an unknown location keeping them hostage. The girls are kept in a room and introduced to a few of Kevin’s personalities, all while trying to figure out how to escape. Casey (played by Anya Taylor-Joy) is the girl that is our main character as we have flashbacks to her past explaining why she’s different and distant than her friends Claire (played by Haley Lu Richardson) and Marcia (played by Jessica Sula). Claire has had a rough childhood and there are things that she would say or do to help her friends in this situation that make sense later in the film. Kevin also has a therapist, Dr. Karen Fletcher, played by Betty Buckley, and it’s not Kevin she treats. She treats Barry, who is fashion oriented and also won’t let anyone else talk to Dr. Fletcher. McAvoy reminded me of Tatiana Maslany from one of my favorite shows Orphan Black as he is able to play all of these characters differently and they all feel unique. The comic relief is definitely his identity of Hedwig, a 9 year old boy.
Split is a film that builds to this event and once the event happens, I was very underwhelmed and muttered “seriously?”. However once the film ends, I second guessed that feeling and felt it was a great addition to the film. Split is a hard film to review because of the ending but if you enjoy Shyamalan, especially early Shyamalan, I think you will enjoy the film and then be happily surprised at the ending. This film was going to get a 6/10 but now…
Split gets an 8/10.